Swan Lake

Lada Uchaeva, Hop-Hop, 2020, fabric, threads, police truncheons, jump rope, needlework, 100 x 100 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist

During the late Soviets, television broadcast of the Swan Lake ballet had become a kind of a signal of exceptional events, sounding either as a requiem for Secretary Generals (that is how the announcements of the death of Breznev, Andropov, Chernenko were preceded), or as a noise obscuring political perturbations taking place in the country. Likewise in August 1991, all USSR TV channels were broadcasting the ballet, for 3 days in a row silencing the events of the August Coup within the media field.

This peculiar tradition of substitution in the post-Soviet space signified the Swan Lake as a surrogate of a change, herald of something inevitable. Not a harbinger, but a confirmation of an unknown incident — a story to displace a story. Old German legend of an enchanted woman, a prince in love and an evil wizard, underlying the ballet’s libretto, became a social phenomenon extending far beyond the scope of theatrics. When in March 2020 Bolshoi Theatre announced its media program with the online-premiere of the Swan Lake, the audience interpreted it almost unequivocally, though this time that ironic ghost of the past outlined radical transformations of contemporaneity, uncertainty of sudden onset future.

The exhibition Swan Lake — a fairy narrative, appropriating the semiotics and symbolism of Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet, the surrogate reality filled with its own drama and mysticism. Here the ballet itself is not so much a point of reference or narrative line, but a metaphorical field of reflection on time, space of vulnerability and vagueness. Modes of empathy (Einfuhlung) lurking beyond beauty and elegiacity of canonical images reveal the unsightly reality: a fairytale on love, growing up and fears turns out to be a story of illusions, fragility and anxiety. Shifted borders, duality, surreality are being woven with contemporary mythology. Swan lake is no more a symbol of resilience and resistance, but indeed — a sign of all-encompassing insecurity and embarrassed suspense. And whereas previously it could be guessed in the thick of the forest, now it surrounds the only haven of tranquility, that small plot of land where we are standing.

The exhibition in four acts, representing St. Petersburg’s contemporary art scene, where phantasmagoric ball is performed by the dark swampland, not only displaces a story and a history, but indirectly reveals social, political and cultural shifts which have happened recently. Political instability, social tension, cultural exinanition converge to the point of no return. Reactualization of meanings and an alarm, present as a refrain in our quotidian, are overlap romanticised reflections of the past. 

The black swan runs the show.

Veronika Nikiforova

 

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Membrana 2, 2016, fabric, acrylic threads, sewing, 50 x 50 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Marina Gisich Gallery

Liza Bobkova, Buffer Zone, 2019, brass, lazer cut, size varies.

Act #1 / Scene #1

In an old German castle, the birthday of Prince Siegfried is being celebrated; today he comes of age. He is congratulated by his mother, the Princess Mother, friends and courtiers. In a majestic ceremony, Siegfried is made a knight. From this day on a sense of duty, valor will be the guiding principles in his life.
The last toasts are pronounced in his honor, young girls, his contemporaries, try to attract his attention, but Siegfried is overcome by emotions of a different order. He dreams of a pure, ideal love. The festivities draw to an end, the guests depart, leaving the prince alone with his thoughts in the gathering dusk. Night falls. Siegfried is conscious of the presence of a shadow at his side, it is as if some mysterious force is beckoning to him. It is the Evil Genius, or Fate itself, who has come to reveal some perturbing secrets to the Prince. Submitting to the powerful pull of his invisible companion’s presence and full of anxious foreboding, Siegfried succumbs to the ideal world of his dreams…

THIS IS HOW IT WAS…

The ball.
Everybody’s dancing.
Fun is going on…

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Ice Game, 2016, fabric, acrylic threads, sewing, 190 x 130 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Ovcharenko Gallery

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Membrana 3, 2016, fabric, acrylic threads, sewing, 50 x 50 cm.
Private collection

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Membrana 7, 2016, fabric, acrylic threads, sewing, 50 x 50 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Marina Gisich Gallery

Liza Bobkova, Buffer Zone, 2019, brass, lazer cut, size varies.

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Love These Fiery Moments, 2016, video, 4’10”. Sound – Victor Mazin. Courtesy of the Artist

Act #1 / Scene #2

Anna Andrzhievskaya, Troubling Dream, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 70 cm. Courtesy of Azot Gallery

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Need to Wake Up, 2016, video, 6’38”
Courtesy of the Artist

Anxiety Dream…

Anna Andrzhievskaya, SHSHSHSH, 2017, watercolour, acrylic, oil, aniline on paper, 50 x 60 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist

Lured by the Evil Genius, Siegfried finds himself on the banks of a mysterious lake. In the shimmering patches of moonlight on the water, visions of bewitched swan maidens rise up before him. Siegfried catches sight of Odette, the most beautiful of the maidens.He is spell-bound, deeply struck by her beauty. At long last, he has found his romantic ideal of love. He swears to Odette that he will love her forever and be faithful to her.

Fedor Hiroshige, Balance of the White, 2018, desk drawer, pyrography, 47 x 43 x 10 cm. Private collection. Photo: Courtesy of Vladey

Lured by the Evil Genius, Siegfried finds himself on the banks of a mysterious lake. In the shimmering patches of moonlight on the water, visions of bewitched swan maidens rise up before him. Siegfried catches sight of Odette, the most beautiful of the maidens.He is spell-bound, deeply struck by her beauty. At long last, he has found his romantic ideal of love. He swears to Odette that he will love her forever and be faithful to her.

Fedor Hiroshige, A Walk, 2018, plywood, professor Woodman’s table, bark, pyrography, coffee, sgraffito, 59 x 159 x 7 cm.
Private collection. Photo: Courtesy of Vladey
Tanya Akhmetgalieva, I’m More Like a Tree, 2019, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Forsblom
Anna Andrzhievskaya, Untitled, 2017, mixed media, paper, 39 x 59 cm.
Courtesy Igor Sukhanov collection
Anna Andrzhievskaya, Preparation, 2019, acrylic and oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm.
Courtesy of Azot Gallery

Act #2 / Scene #3

The Ball.
Substitute.

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Passing Through the Walls, 2015, fabric, acrylic thread, sewing, 190 x 130 cm.
Courtesy Denis Khimiliayne collection

In sentimental glossary of the French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze a dead bird denotes loss of virginity, and this is actually the case of “Love these flaming moments!” project. Beauty of the white swans turns into rough air causing vertigo.

The looped fountain turns from phallic metaphor into the infinity sign, the inextricable Moebius strip. Invaders break into a quiet bunch of flowers. Or have they always been there, hidden in beauty?

extract from the text by VALENTIN DIAKONOV
Petr Shvetsov, Untitled, from “Bestiary” series, 2020, oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm.
Courtesy Marina Gisich Gallery
Petr Shvetsov, Josephine, from “Bestiary” series, 2020, oil on canvas, 130 x 70 cm.
Courtesy Marina Gisich Gallery

Prospective brides-to-be are arriving at the Princess Mother’s castle. The Prince must choose one of them to be his wife. But Siegfried can think of nothing but Odette and his meeting of her. He dances in an offhand way with the well-born maidens. Not one of them can compare to his ideal.
Suddenly, a mysterious knight arrives at the ball accompanied by a ravishingly beautiful young girl and a suite of black swans. It is the Evil Genius and Odile, Odette’s double. Struck by their resemblance, Siegfried hurries towards Odile. The Evil Genius is putting the Prince’s sentiments to the test. Siegfried is enchanted by the perfidious Odile who manages to disarm him of all his doubts. He announces Odile to be his chosen bride. At this very moment, the throne room is plunged in darkness and a vision of the beautiful Odette appears before the assembled company. Siegfried realizes that he has become a plaything in the hands of Fate. Hoping to atone for his betrayal, he rushes in despair after the receding image of the white swan.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, Cinema for a Young Snake, 2017 – 2018, computer animation, 13’00”. Courtesy of the Artist

Petr Shvetsov, Mary, from “Bestiary” series, 2020, oil on canvas, 90 x 50 cm.
Courtesy Marina Gisich Gallery

Petr Shvetsov, Untitled, from “Bestiary” series, 2020, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm.
Courtesy Marina Gisich Gallery
Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Intersecting Lines, 2019, oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Forsblom
Tanya Akhmetgalieva, The Love Letter, 2019, oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Forsblom

Act #2 / Scene #4

Liza Bobkova, Buffer Zone, 2019, brass, lazer cut, size varies.
Anna Andrzhievskaya, Swan Song, 2020, acrylic and oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm.
Courtesy Triumph Gallery
Anna Andrzhievskaya, Swan Song, 2020, acrylic and oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm.
Courtesy Triumph Gallery

Night-time. A deep gloom overhangs the lake. Odette brings the tragic news; the Prince has broken his vow of faithfulness to her.Siegfried’s conscience is deeply troubled; he hurries towards Odette begging for her forgiveness. Odette forgives the youth but she is no longer mistress of her own fate. The Evil Genius summons up a storm which disperses, plays havoc with, the heroes of our tale, making it impossible for them to unite. Made weak by his single combat with Fate, Siegfried tries in vain to hold on to the vanish image. As dawn breaks, he finds himself alone on the empty banks of the lake of his dreams.

Lada Uchaeva, Kokoshnik 1 (woman`s head-dress in old russia), 2018, barb wire, 45 x 60 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist
Lada Uchaeva, Kokoshnik 2 (woman`s head-dress in old russia), 2018, barb wire, 50 x 70 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist

Lada Uchaeva, Prosperity, 2019, print on fabric, sewing, blood, 50 x 50 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist

Liza Bobkova, Buffer Zone, 2019, brass, lazer cut, size varies.

Natalia Tikhonova, The Rou, 2020, video with sound, 5’05”. Courtesy of the Artist

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Membrana 8, 2016, fabric, acrylic threads, sewing, 50 x 50 cm.
Courtesy of the Artist

Artists

Anna Andrzhievskaya
Tanya Akhmetgalieva
Liza Bobkova
Fedor Hiroshige
Natalia Tikhonova
Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai
Petr Shvetsov
Lada Uchaeva

Curator

Veronika Nikiforova

Exhibition Designer

Roman Oganesian

Exhibition Director

Yana Tibben

We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to the highly professional and friendly team of the 2nd Curatorial Forum, and to Maria Kuzmina (Katz), Natalia Schipakina, Elena Filippova personally for their support and involvement in the exhibition and its idea.

Videos “Love These Fiery Moments” and “Need to Wake Up” by Tanya Akhmetgalieva are made within the residence at the International Center of Arts Cité des arts (Paris), with the support of the French Institute in St. Petersburg.

Synopsis of Libretto by Yuri Grigorovich after scenario by Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltser (c) The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia// https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/36/libretto/



November 19, 2020 –
January 20, 2021

IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE 2ND CURATORIAL FORUM NATIONAL CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART IN ST. PETERSBURG (THE PUSHKIN STATE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS)

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